There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena

Source– The post is based on the article “There are precedents to help the EC decide which is the real Shiv Sena” published in The Indian Express on 4th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Polity

Relevance– Political parties in India

News– The article explains the procedure for allotting symbols in case of conflict between two rival groups of party. It also explains the Supreme Court stand in this regard.

Recently the Supreme Court allowed the Election Commission of India to decide on Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s petition staking claim over the real Shiv Sena and the party symbol.

What is the procedure for symbol allotment in case there is a dispute between rival factions?

EC does not take suo motu cognisance. It decides the matter only when a party approaches it with its claim.

The Commission then starts proceedings under Section 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. The proceedings are quasi-judicial in nature.

It goes by the “Rule of Majority and Numerical Strength”. Both parties are asked to produce evidence in support of their claim.

The Commission takes into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case. Then, it decides which rival section or group is that recognised party. The decision of the Commission shall be binding.

If elections are scheduled– The name of the party and the symbol both are frozen. The two factions are given a temporary name like Party A and Party B, and symbol A and symbol B.

What is the Supreme Court ruling on this matter?

In the first judicial case related to symbols, the Supreme Court gave its observation. It observed that the symbol is not a property to be divided between co-owners. The allotment of a symbol to the candidates set up by a political party is a legal right.

In case of a split, the Commission has been authorised to determine which of the rival groups or sections is the party entitled to the symbol. The Commission does not decide as to which group represents the party. It decides which group is that party.

The court upheld the constitutionality of the “test of majority” in the Congress split case (Sadiq Ali v. Election Commission of India, 1971).

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